Organizing a Book on Theology

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journey. The following blog is from Russell E. Gehrlein, author of Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession. For more information on the author visit his website and Facebook page. To begin your self-publishing journey, get a free WestBow Press publishing guide today.

In March 2015, I gave a two-hour presentation on the theology of work to a small group of local college students as part of an independent study for my master’s degree with Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. Three years later, this slideshow had become a 282-page book. This unique resource is a solid introduction to this critical subject so that the average Christian worker can understand how they can experience God’s presence at work every day.

I imagine there are other biblical scholars or theologians who have a concept they are passionate to share with others to aid them in their own spiritual growth. Let me share a few lessons that I learned along the way that kept me focused on the task and helped me succeed.

Getting the Project Moving in the Right Direction

My wife said I should write a book on this subject. Six months after my presentation, I created a tentative chapter outline. I put it on the back burner until July 2016, when I began to copy my notes and quotes from my presentation, and pasted them into the appropriate chapter.

I knew I needed to wrestle with this topic a bit further to fill in the gaps in my understanding. In January 2016, I selected a dozen more books to read and concluded my research in June 2017. At the same time, I began to write a series of articles about work on my blog, Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest. Twenty of these articles were adapted and expanded from my notes, and thirty were new. I took these original articles and put them in the appropriate place in my book. The page count grew. I somehow found the courage to send some of these articles to a few faith and work organizations. Two of them, the LeTourneau Center for Faith & Work, and the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics took a chance on me and posted a dozen articles on their websites.

Consolidating my Research

The best thing I can recommend to other writers of theology is to develop and follow a detailed plan with realistic milestones. The plan I put down kept me on track, allowing me to start on May 1, 2017, expand my rough collection of organized notes and articles, and have my first draft completed by Labor Day (an appropriate date for a book on the theology of work).

I spent five weeks taking my list of 300 Bible verses I created for my independent study, identify where they belonged, and inserting a short summary or reference in each chapter. I chose ten to twenty key of those Scriptures, and did a little more study in commentaries to augment my own observations. I compiled a Scripture index, which would be a helpful tool for those who wanted to study further. I took seven more weeks to page through the thirty books I had read on this subject and typed up quotes that were especially inspirational or reinforced my own views. I selected over three hundred quotes from both classic and modern writers, typed them in one long document, placed them in a logical spot in my book, and created footnotes. I made an effort to tie this perspective on work to the other aspects of systematic theology. I found illustrations to help my readers see how to apply these truths. I reflected on my own personal career journey, added some experiences from family and friends, and shared them throughout.

It was a long and difficult road, but it was one I was glad that I took.

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so through the Blog Guidelines Page. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the ideas. I’m going to try to the same thing you just showed me. That was really a good lesson.

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